Police told Rotherhithe residents they were their “eyes and ears” at a public meeting amid rising concerns over crime in the area.
Residents were urged to report anything suspicious they see and hear in the area, no matter how small, as it could be “the missing piece of the jigsaw” needed to crack a case.
Southwark police Superintendent Liz Hughes, Chief Inspector Annemarie Cowley, Inspector Jim Cole, Ward Sergeant Matt Durham, and Dedicated Ward Officer Darryl Angus spoke to the public at the packed out church.
Insp Cole told those gathered officers did not have “a magic wand” – but that they were “incredibly dedicated to looking after the people of this borough”.
“We are not perfect but we will do our best, and I would ask that if things are happening please report it,” he said.
“I would refute the fact that we’ve ignored the area,” he added in response to one resident.
“What I would say is the last twelve months for the police has been one of the most challenging years I’ve ever known in this job and I’ve been a police officer for 20 years.
“The terror attacks at Westminster and London Bridge, the fire at Grenfell Tower, and the knife crime that has increased this year – all those events have taken officers that work in this borough to police them.”
Steve Cornish, chair of the Friends of Russia Dock Woodland, reassured residents the woodland had fully-operational CCTV cameras once again thanks to a member of the community, although it was not said how.
Another resident asked what was being done to tackle moped-enabled crime in the area.
In response, Insp Cole said it was a difficult crime to combat, but specialist traffic officers had been brought in to help, who were trained in pursuit.
Supt Liz Hughes also told residents the police regularly reviewed data of where crimes were being committed and prioritised its resources in response.
“Every morning, either I, or one of the other superintendents, will chair a meeting where we look at the crimes in the last 24 hours in Southwark and we will make sure that we are covering those with crime resources,” she said.
”Once a month Southwark police sits down, looks at all that data, and decisions are made for the next month actually based on that.
“We can’t put police resources everywhere, we have to prioritise.”
Supt Hughes added that, as part of the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) strategy, each neighbourhood policing team would hold contact sessions with the public through regular surgeries.
Despite raising the possibility of vigilante groups last week, residents’ groups did not bring this up at the meeting with police.